presence on the internet and announced plans for a comprehensive new
set of government website guidelines today.
Drawn-up by a cross-departmental government group chaired by the
guidelines aim to:
* Establish a more coherent government presence on the internet
* Make sites more accessible to a wide audience, including those with
limited internet skills, older equipment or physical disability
* Promote better links between sites and an improved standard of
* Encourage the development of excellence in departmental business
In the keynote speech to the Information Age Government Websites
Conference, Patricia Hewitt said:
'These guidelines are a decisive first step towards a more
coherent online government presence and to establishing better
standards of electronic publishing.
'We haven't used the internet as well as we might. We haven't
done enough to present a focussed message about policy or created a
common experience for those using government sites. These guidelines
will help change this.
'This is crucial as we strive to provide sites which not simply
give information but provide support services such as online tax self
assessment and advice for jobseekers.
'This is a challenging time for those working to use the
Internet. It is a central part of the strategy for promoting
e-commerce, and a crucial medium for publishing information and
interacting with citizens.'
The development of transactional websites will be a key element in
achieving the Government's target that 100 per cent of services
should be electronically accessible by 2008.
Guidelines are not intended to suppress innovation, or to impose
rigid uniformity on sites. But they will make for greater
consistency in the content of homepages, and make it easier for users
to find information in a form they can use.
Departments are likely to be audited to ensure standards are pushed
Details on the guidelines will be made available on the
Information Age Government Champions website at
Information Age Government: The prime minister launched the
performance and innovation unit report email@example.com on 20
September. The government pledged to ensure that by 2002, UK
citizens and businesses will be working in the best economy in the
world for electronic trading. The government has also appointed Alex
Allen as e-envoy to champion both the e-commerce and e-government
agendas across government in the wider economy.
Last March, the government published the Modernising government
white paper, setting out a wide-ranging programme for improving
public services using information technology as a key driver. By
2008, all government services should be capable of being delivered
The government is also to publish the first-ever corporate IT
strategy. A group of information age champions - 35 senior officials
from major departments and agencies - have been established to
oversee the development and implementation of the strategy.